health technology

From the Lab to the Hospital: How Robotics is Transforming Healthcare

Robotics is increasingly being used in healthcare, from surgeries to assisting nurses and doctors with tasks. This is because robotics offers many advantages over traditional methods, including greater accuracy and precision, less invasiveness, shorter recovery times, and the ability to perform delicate tasks.

Due to this, robotics is seen as a transformative technology in healthcare, with the potential to change the way people provide and receive care. Here are some areas in healthcare that have been transformed by robotics:

Surgery

One area where robotics has a significant impact is surgery. Robotics-assisted surgery can be used for various procedures, including minimally invasive surgery, which involves making small incisions. This type of surgery is less invasive than traditional surgery, and as a result, patients experience less pain and trauma and have shorter recovery times.

Another advantage of robotics-assisted surgery is that it can be performed using smaller instruments than traditional surgery, which means that the surgeon has greater control and precision. This is especially beneficial for delicate surgeries, such as those involving the brain or heart.

For instance, they can use the smallest depth-sensing camera to give them a 3D view of the operating site, which is impossible with traditional 2D methods. Or, they can use a robotic arm to reach areas of the body that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Physical Therapy

Another area where robotics is making a significant impact is in the field of physical therapy. Robotics-assisted physical therapy can help patients recover from injuries and surgery faster than traditional methods. This is because robotics can provide a more intense and targeted form of treatment tailored to the individual patient’s needs.

One example of a robotic device used for physical therapy is the robotic exoskeleton, a wearable device that helps patients with lower-limb paralysis walk. This device is fitted to the patient’s body and supports their weight, allowing them to walk without assistance.

Rehabilitation

The last area where robotics is having an impact is rehabilitation. Robotics-assisted rehabilitation can help patients who have suffered a stroke or other neurological injury regain movement and function. Robotics can provide a more intense and targeted form of therapy tailored to individual patients’ needs.

An example of a robotic device used for rehabilitation is the Rehabilitation Robotics arm, which helps patients regain the use of their arms after a stroke. The device is worn on the patient’s arm and provides resistance as they move their arm, helping them regain strength and function.

Concerns for Using Robotics in Healthcare

However, there are also some concerns about using robotics in healthcare. This is because the technology is still relatively new, and there is a lack of regulation surrounding its use. Here’s a closer look at some of them:

3D rendering robotic arms with empty conveyor belt

Concern #1 High Cost

One of the biggest concerns about using robotics in healthcare is the high cost. Since it’s expensive to purchase and maintain robotic devices, this can limit their use to only the most affluent hospitals and clinics. In addition, since there is a lack of regulation surrounding robotics in healthcare, this can also drive up the cost.

Concern #2 Risk of Human Error

Another concern is the risk of human error. This is because the technology is still relatively new, and there is a lack of regulation surrounding its use. For example, a 2015 study showed at least 144 deaths and over 1,000 injuries caused by surgical robots in 14 years.

Most of these incidents involved burnt skin tissues because of electrical sparks, longer surgeries because of system malfunctions, and broken instruments falling into open body cavities. Of course, this is only a tiny percentage compared to the millions of surgeries that have been performed using robotics, but it is still a significant concern.

Concern #3 Loss of Jobs

The workforce is concerned about the potential loss of jobs. This is because robotics in healthcare can automate many tasks that human workers currently perform. For example, robots are already being used to dispense medication and transport patients around hospitals.

Concern #4 Privacy and Security

Patients are also concerned about their privacy and security. This is because robotics in healthcare requires the sharing of sensitive patient data. For example, when a patient is being treated with a robotic device, their medical data must be transmitted to the device to work correctly.

However, this data transmission can create a security risk, as it could be intercepted and used without the patient’s permission. In addition, there is also the concern that hackers could gain access to the patient’s data through the device.

The Bottom Line

Despite all these concerns, robotics is still transforming healthcare, and the benefits of using robotics in healthcare are likely to outweigh the disadvantages in the long run. This is because robotics can provide a more efficient and effective way of delivering healthcare and improve patient outcomes.

Even if it’s still a far cry from the advanced medical care seen in movies like “Star Wars” or “E.T.,” robotics is still changing healthcare for the better and is here to stay. So, the next time you visit your doctor, don’t be surprised if you see a robot by their side.

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